Legendary Counties Manukau coach Mac McCallion dies, age 67

Source: 1News

Former Counties Manukau, Blues assistant and Fiji coach Warrick "Mac" McCallion has died after a battle with cancer, aged 67.

Mac McCallion

McCallion coached Counties from 1995 through to 1999 leading the Steelers to two provincial finals and named as New Zealand coach of the year in 1996 and 1997.

He would also go on to work as an assistant coach to Sir Graham Henry at the Blues from 1996 through to 1999, winning Super Rugby titles in 1996 and 1997 in the process.

In a statement released today, former Counties captain Errol Brain spoke of the belief that McCallion gave to the side during his time as coach.

"Mac gave all of us, as individuals, a strong sense of self belief to be able to compete with the bigger unions," he said.

"Mac was a hard man, I have never trained so hard and because of that he created a team culture that was tight. I have a lot of memories of the games and also very special ones of him as I was fortunate to be his captain."

"Under Mac, we knew we could be competitive against teams with plenty of All Blacks and win those games which we were fortunate enough to do during round robins. He took us to two finals in 1996 and 1997 and that was a great period in Counties' history."

"He was a straight shooter and you knew pretty quickly where you stood with him which is what I admired about him most."

A Vietnam War veteran, McCallion will be farewelled with a military funeral service.